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  • In His Own Words...

    Alan Hebert, skipper of S2 7.9 Wildcat of Loch Awe weighed in this afternoon to the SSS forum and provided his insight into the moments before during and after when the Point Pinole daymarker changed his afternoon, and reduced sail area by a considerable amount....




    In happier times, Alan is neck and neck with Robert Macdonald's Olson 29' Nina as they approached The Sisters and made his gybe quite nicely....








    So what happened? This is an edited synopsis of what I wrote to Jackie.

    1. I was trying to be conservative, and doused the spinnaker about a mile, maybe a mile and a half from Point Pinole. With the spinnaker up, the boat was just HAULING. But I was sailing alongside an Alberg 35....(I think)....and I wasn't really much faster than he was. Go figure? That made no sense to me, it sure felt fast! I figured that I'd probably made up a bunch of time on the guys in my class (I'm the slowest boat in my division, now) and I should just play it safe and douse. So I did, long, long before Point Pinole.

    Sure I had a bit of a wrestling match gybing around the Sisters, with one big round-up but it went remarkably well after that. Other than that everything was going great until the tiller went hard-over when I tacked at Point Pinole and turned me 180 degrees instead of 90. That's the one problem with this boat. I HAVE to control the tiller at all times, or it will instantly slam over to the leeward side. I gave myself at least 2 boat lengths clearance, maybe more, but with that issue, it wasn't enough.

    2. The other thing that might have happened...it's a haze right now....involves my "improved" safety harness tether. SHTP rules require that the tether be shorter than the distance from the aft end point of your jacklines, to the transom. My old tether was about 2 feet longer than that, and allowed me to get everywhere in the cockpit without unclipping. I made a new SHTP rules-compliant tether. The only problem with it is that if I'm forward of the traveler (to pull in the jib sheets), and I lose the tiller, and it slams over to the leeward side, the tether is too short for me to reach it. So I have to unclip, THEN reach over and grab the tiller. Sometimes I can "go around the front" of the mainsheet and get to it but that takes another two seconds. If the tether happens to wrap around a winch, that's another two seconds gone while I untangle it. All of that adds up to several seconds and I had no more than about 6-7-8 seconds from the tiller going over until impact.

    I can't remember now if that's what happened with the tether. What I DO know is that as I started making the turn about two boat lengths leeward of the mark, I sheeted in the main in preparation for going to windward. I sailed past the mark at least two boat lengths until I was clear. Then I started the tack. I let go of the tiller for just a second to grab the new leeward jib sheet. So when the tiller when WHAM hard-over, when I DID finally grab it again I was headed directly back at the daymarker. I couldn't bear off. The force of the main kept the bow up. There was no time to release the mainsheet....I just didn't have time to think of it.


    image © Jackie Phillpot


    AND.....the now-lazy jibsheet jammed in the deck-mounted block that it goes through, before heading to the winch. It wouldn't come around to the now-leeward side. So for all intents and purposes, I couldn't have rammed the tiller back over and turned up into the wind, either. The jib was jammed into position as if I was "aback".

    Put it all together and the 2-3 boatlengths safety margin I'd given myself around the daymarker wasn't enough. On top of that, there were two boats right behind me. If I HAD managed to bear off to miss the channel marker, I might have hit them....I can't swear to that, but they were very close. One was an Express 27 (white) I don't know what the other boat was.

    ===========

    All boats are compromises. There is no "perfect boat" and the S2 7.9 is a really good boat. However, the issue with the rudder/tiller having zilch stability is not just my boat, I've heard from other owners that it's found on all the Graham and Schlageter S-2's...the 7.9 and the 9.1. It's a transom-mounted rudder. I actually made a new rudder with LESS balance in it, than the One Design rudder in an attempt to get some more stability into the system, and I got a little bit, but not much. In this case, the "One Bad Thing" about this boat, and my mistake in not taking that into account and giving myself enough room in a pressure situation just cost me my mast.


    To Ian Matthew on Siento el Viento, for making sure I was OK.
    To Jackie Philpott, on Dura Mater, for staying on station "just in case"
    To Paul Schroder on Constance for staying with me and trying to tow me to Richmond.
    And also thanks to Rebecca Hinden on Bombora!

    ====

    The Coasties were very professional, did a great job, and were pleasant the whole time. Kudos to the crew!
    The Coasties took me to Vallejo, which was a wild ride, with about 4-5 feet of the top of the mast dragging in the water behind the boat, but after a lot of screaming, loosening rigging, and slicing through kevlar sailcloth, I'm fine. ...just some little scratches on my hands, totally no big deal. The only damage to me personally is my pocketbook and dignity.

    Alan
    This article was originally published in forum thread: All Wrapped Up At Point Pinole started by Photoboy View original post
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